A grand challenge: providing benefits of clinical genetics to those in need

Genet Med. 2011 Mar;13(3):197-200. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31820c056e.


Genetic research, techniques, and knowledge have rapidly expanded in the last two decades with the completion of the Human Genome Project and other major advances in discovery research and diagnostic technologies. Although these developments have obvious potential, they also raise significant challenges related to programs for the actual delivery of useful genetic testing and services. This challenge is particularly acute in rural and remote areas, where lack of access to genetic services is pervasive resulting in significant inequities in access and availability of services. Huntington disease, the classic example of an adult-onset hereditary disorder, is used to illustrate this concern and highlight the imperative of exploring novel mechanisms to improve access to effective genetic services. The components of an effective and practical solution strategy are outlined, including the development of innovative delivery systems such as telemedicine, web-based education tools, and cost-reduction mechanisms. A proactive approach is essential to ensure the potential benefits, and availability of clinical genetics is realized by those in need rather than just those in reach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Testing / ethics
  • Genetic Testing / supply & distribution
  • Genetics, Medical / ethics
  • Genetics, Medical / standards*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand* / standards
  • Humans
  • Poverty
  • Rural Population